by Charlene Burgi
While I was visiting some of the neighbors last week, someone made reference to the Farmers’ Almanac. I hadn’t thought about or seen a Farmers’ Almanac since the nursery days back in the ‘80s. I vaguely remembered the booklet carried various tidbits of interesting trivia, but I never paid too much attention to it at the time.
Despite my lack of former awareness, the conversation piqued my curiosity and must have done the same for my husband, as I soon found the 2012 Almanac on the coffee table. Last night, I began leafing through it and was astounded by the amount of information contained within those 100-plus pages.
This publication covers 16 months, so I referenced back to weather patterns past. Surprisingly, to date, these predictions have been right on target. I marveled at the prediction of the weather “turning much colder over the West from Nov. 28th through the 30th” when the thermometer on the deck read 26 degrees on the 28th. Yet, the day before the meter was reading in the mid 40s early in the morning. I was also impressed with the dates they suggested to plant above-ground crops and when to plant root crops. The given dates for planting all coincided with the phases of the moon, a practice my grandparents lived by. I smiled when I read, “apply mulches, not to keep the ground warm but to maintain an even ground temperature. Better late than early.”
One timely article discussed when to prune blooming plants. They suggested pruning in late winter or early spring before the buds turn green if the flowers are borne on the new wood, such as crepe myrtle. Plants such as rhododendrons, quince and azaleas grow on old wood and should be pruned after the plants bloom or you will sacrifice the beautiful color you waited for all year.
One bit of advice came a bit too late for me. They recommended moving plants indoors in cold regions before the temperatures drop. The two orchids and aloe that decorated the front covered deck suffered through a cold snap and now sport brown or melted foliage. The Almanac’s sage advice was to move the plants inside when the temperatures remain the same outdoors as indoors. I will remember this next fall!
I understand there could be something amiss. It is that time of year when Iggy comes out to play. I tried to see if the Almanac made reference to how to deal with Iggy, but at best the booklet only said to turn off the irrigation during winter months. Perhaps Iggy needs to understand the program of being shut down so water is not wasted and plants aren’t drowning! Do you have an Iggy in your home? If so, please pay attention or you could be in for unwanted surprises!
Rainwater Harvesting Basics
Speaking of surprises, let me remind you of a FREE workshop on Rainwater Harvesting Basics on December 10 from 10 a.m. – noon at the Mill Valley Community Center. This is an introduction to rain harvesting that includes a presentation and hands-on exploration of the “nuts and bolts” in a basic residential system. Co-sponsored by The Urban Farmer Store. The space is limited, so reserve your seat today! Contact MMWD at (415) 945-1521.